August garden maintenance

August is a month of vegetable harvest and late summer flower blossoms. August is also a month of traditionally hot weather and decreased amounts of rain in the Ozarks. The work in the garden continues to go on, but the end is in sight.

It’s very important to continue to stay on top of weeds that are growing in beds. Weeds that go to seed will germinate and produce more weeds later in the year or even in the upcoming year. Copious amounts of rain or watering will keep a gardener busy trying to stay on top of weeds that seem to grow overnight in the warm August weather.

Apply another round of a time-release fertilizer. Time-release fertilizers peter out in about three months time, so late summer is a good time to apply fertilizer again. Container grown plants especially need additional fertilizer because constant watering leaches the nutrients out of the container’s soil.

Watering is a big challenge in the late summer heat. Early morning or late evening watering will stay in the soil for longest amount of time without evaporating. It’s important to water “deeply” providing a good soak for a plant rather than a light sprinkling that won’t stay in the soil for an extended period.

Deep watering and moisture well below the surface of the soil will encourage plants to send their roots down deep for water. Use a trowel to check the moisture level in the soil around garden plants. If plants have received adequate moisture, the soil will be damp three to four inches below the soil surface.

Container plants can be checked for water by sticking a finger down in the soil. If the soil is damp an inch or two down into the soil, the soil is adequately moist. Too much moisture in a container can be as detrimental as not watering the container at all.

Summer blooming shrubs can be pruned after blooms cease because the weather’s still too warm to damage the shrubs. Remember, pruning spring blooming shrubs now will cut off next spring’s blooms, so exercise caution when wielding the pruners around the spring bloomers.

Deadhead and prune plants that have completed their blooms. Pruning back dead stems and leaves will make your garden look tidier, and the plant will probably send up a resurgence of new growth, possibly including some fresh blooms.

Finally, remove diseased plants from the garden to inhibit further plant disease in the garden. Any shrub limbs with fungal diseases such as black spot should be cut off.

Questions or comments related to gardening? Contact Joleen at missourigardener@hotmail.com.

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